Races for five Town Council seats
Correction: A town precinct map this story originally linked to has been found to be out of date.
GREENFIELD — There will be a race for all five of the Town Council seats up for election this year — something that hasn’t happened since 2008.
The years since then have seen only tepid candidate interest. There were no races in 2009, 2012 and 2013. In 2010, there were five seats up for election and the only race was in Precinct 8.
This year, there are 11 residents running for one townwide seat and four precinct seats, with all incumbents facing challengers.
Many of the challengers said they decided to run because it is time for change and they’d like to effect that change by serving their community.
This year’s races include one for at-large councilor. Town Council President Mark Wisnewski, 49, of Montague City Road, will face off against former At-large Councilor and local lawyer Isaac Mass, 37, of Linden Avenue, in what some are touting to be the biggest race of this election.
Three newcomers will run for the Precinct 5 seat, which is being vacated by former council President David Singer, who has decided not to run for re-election. That will require a primary election to eliminate one of the three unless someone withdraws by March 18.
The three contestants are 63-year-old Robert Wainstein, a local lawyer who lives on James Street, 54-year-old local activist and big box proponent Penny Ricketts, who lives on Main Street and works at Home Depot, and John Lyford, a retired Greenfield firefighter who lives on Farren Street.
At the same time, in Precinct 2, Ronald Weaver, 68, a retired teacher who lives on Rockland Road, will run against 73-year-old incumbent Alfred Siano, who retired from pharmaceutical sales and lives on Meadow Wood Drive.
In Precinct 4, Thomas DeHoyos, 56, who lives on Silver Street and is currently a member of the town’s Conservation Commission, is running against incumbent Steven Ronhave, 65, of High Street.
In Precinct 6, Christopher Miller, 32, a life insurance agent who lives on Chapman Street, will run against 43-year-old incumbent Hillary Hoffman of Abbott Street for the Precinct 6 seat.
In Precinct 2, Siano, a former mayoral candidate and at-large councilor, who was recently appointed to the seat when former Councilor Keith Zaltzberg resigned, said he is happy to see so much interest in town government this year.
The two candidates will run for a one-year term to finish out Zaltzberg’s term.
“The biggest reason I wanted to run this year is that I have the experience in town government that many candidates don’t,” said Siano. “I believe that experience will help me make the sound judgments this town needs.”
Siano said he will work tirelessly to expand the town’s tax base and stabilize its tax rate.
Weaver said he decided his retirement afforded him a great opportunity to serve his town.
“I have experience in government — I served on the Planning Board,” said Weaver. “I think there are a lot of pressing issues in Greenfield, like transportation, education and alternative energy, which are going to require important decisions. We are at a crossroads and I’d like to be there and poised to make those decisions.”
In Precinct 4, Ronhave said it is his plan to be part of Greenfield’s future.
“My three years of experience as a councilor for this precinct brings value to our town government,” said Ronhave. “Having a better understanding of how our process works allows me to engage with other councilors and the mayor’s team.”
Ronhave said if Greenfield is going to compete regionally and globally, it must work harder to produce better students that will eventually enter the workforce.
“I look forward to being actively involved in the implementation of our sustainable master plan,” he said.
DeHoyos said he decided to run because he would like to serve the community not only on the Conservation Commission, but in a much bigger way.
“There are some issues we really have to look at here in Greenfield,” said DeHoyos. “The drug problem, for instance, needs attention and we all know it. There are steps being taken, and I think that’s great, but as a councilor and the husband of a business owner on Main Street, I’d like to be more involved.”
DeHoyos said after talking with “hundreds of residents,” he has learned they feel the council isn’t always in tune with what they want, and they don’t like what’s going on.
“I want to make sure everyone in the community is included in everything,” he said. “I also want to get to know all town board members, so that as a councilor I could work with them.”
DeHoyos said the only special interest group he would pay attention to is all of the constituents of Precinct 4.
In Precinct 5, Wainstein said he has been thinking about running for a seat on the council for a while.
“I’ve wanted to become more involved in the town,” said Wainstein. “I’ve been very involved on the periphery, but I wanted to become involved directly.”
Wainstein said he plans to become “very familiar” with the town’s new sustainable master plan.
“I think that’s where the council should head,” he said. “The town is behind this plan, so who can disagree with it?”
Ricketts said she has always wanted to serve on the council, but in the past has found candidates she could get behind, so worked on their campaigns.
“This is a good opportunity for me,” said Ricketts. “I will be good for Precinct 5. I am more than a one-issue candidate. Through all of my community work, I hear people who are truly interested in what happens in our small city.”
Ricketts, who currently serves on the town’s Human Rights Commission, said she does not want to divide the town on any issues and is more interested in the day-to-day issues facing the town, rather than the divisive ones.
“Sitting on the council is not about what I want or don’t want,” said Ricketts. “It’s about open discussions sharing all sides of the issues.”
Lyford said after serving Greenfield as a firefighter for 26 years, he decided he wanted to serve in another way.
“I want to continue to give back,” he said. “I think Greenfield needs to attract more business and create more jobs. I’m not a politician, but I do have the best interest of the town at heart. I can bring a reasonable voice to the seat and not just want to shake things up.
“The town really needs an increase in local aid,” said Lyford. “It’s budget season and local aid has been flat. The town has been struggling and limping along. I really want to help get it to a good financial place.”
In Precinct 6, incumbent Hoffman said she has learned a lot over the past three years and hopes to put that knowledge to “continued good use” over the next three.
“There are so many issues and opportunities,” said Hoffman. “I think we have to look at being fiscally responsible and need to support and implement our new sustainable master plan.”
Miller said he is running because he wants to make a difference in and for his community.
“I want to help change Greenfield,” he said. “I want it to become a vibrant, productive community and I think there’s a need to make serious changes, especially in economic development and education, over the next few years.”
Miller said he will work with constituents and councilors to offer the best leadership for the town.
The town’s preliminary election, which will only involve Precinct 5, will be held April 15. The annual election will be held June 10.